Spellcaster's Shapeshifting Brainstorm

Splitting this from the Tmut rework thread as that is a feedback thread and this is for brainstorming.

The current set of forms coming from talismans and shapeshifting skill is oriented to a melee support or even dedicated UC-shifty play style. There are enough forms that one can reasonably melee with weapons that it’s not one dimensional, but there’s I think some room for some forms that a spell caster might be tempted to skill into shapeshifting for.

Here are some expanded ideas, elaborating on my comment in the other thread. Numbers are approximate, going for mechanics and vibes here.

Boneitis form (working name)

Adjust your bones locations in your body to shield you and make you nimble

  • Min skill: 0
  • Max skill: 9
  • Melds: auxes
  • Bonus UC: none
  • gives SH (large bone plates) as you skill up, up to around 8
  • gives Stealth and some Dex (thin skeletal structure) as you skill up

Brain form

Become a floating glowing brain. Probably a bit too much going on in this list, maybe too strong for t2 even with the glass cannon attributes.

  • Min skil: 9
  • Max skill: 20
  • Melds: all
  • Bonus UC: none
  • AC: fixed at 4
  • EV: fixed at… number
  • Int: scaling up to something like +10 or +12 at max skill
  • Archmagi
  • Maybe? +MP as well
  • Glows (-Stelth, no invisible)
  • SInv (esp)

Demon form

Demons are well known to have “different” magic, but if you could become one then you could cast by gesture too (for a cost) t3

  • Min skill:15
  • Max: 24-7
  • Melds: none? like statue? unsure
  • really not sure what defenses if any come here
  • Gives demonic casting: Speed 0.7 spell casts, can’t be silenced, but each cast gives some contamination (amount scaling down with training)
  • Holy and silver vuln
  • Suppresses most species mutations but not Ds ones because demon

Pitch your own, dissect the others! I’m sure when the dust settles we’ll have a good 2-3 form ideas that I might try to implement.

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Abominable Form
Become a horrid, bloated mutant. (This one is meant to be strong irrespective of build, as most of the benefit is in passive damage and passive malmute)

  • Min skill: 15
  • Max skill: 27
  • Melds: Boots, gloves, body armour
  • Bonus HP and AC: unimpressive, but present
  • Bonus UC: ^
  • Enemies in radius 2 are passively malmutated
  • Passively ‘aux attack’ adjacent foes, base dam scaling on shapeshifting.

Watcher Form
Become a floating eyeball. The weird UC behavior might be a bad idea, and it should just be pure caster oriented instead

  • Min Skill: 9
  • Max skill: 20
  • Melds: Auxes and Body armour
  • UC attack becomes ranged
  • UC does not scale with str
  • Defenses: dogshit
  • 1.5 movespeed, increasing up to 1 movespeed at 20 skill
  • LOS +2?
  • Spell range +1?2?

Archon Form
Become a being of pure energy, blowing yourself and enemies up with reckless use of magic. This one’s probably a terrible idea but I think it’s neat!

  • Min skill: 15
  • Max skill: 27?
  • Base UC: +like 9 or something. Also innate infusion for theme.
  • Melds: Helmet
  • Spells always fire both success and miscast effect
  • Miscast effect severity reduced by shapeshifting skill (not contam amount; just intensity of additional effects)
  • Violent release of energies happens much more regularly
  • Energy damage mitigated by shapeshifting skill
  • Contamination does not cause mutations (do something so this doesn’t let you dodge contam acquired outside of form)
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I think Boneitis form ends up being a very uninteresting decision to opt-in for caster podes and felids, and to a slightly lesser extent ogres, trolls, and spriggans.
Beast form had this too, but there you almost certainly wanted to trade up to a higher form and I don’t think that’s true here. Also, for beast form ogres et al had a tradeoff once they got cloak and hat, where here dex, stealth, and 8 Sh is I think usually going to be a strict upgrade on hat + cloak

Gel Form (slimeform)

Makes your body gelatinous, barely able to keep humanoid (or feline, octopode etc.) shape.

  • Tier 1 or 2 form.
  • Melds: Jewellery and Cloak (cause slime hands, neck is gone)
  • Bonus UC: none
  • gives big Slay malus, like Slay -6 or more, maybe also Sh malus if using a shield
  • gives bonus AC (scales with skill)
  • gives rPois, Will+
  • maybe gives Regen+ or rCorr, if tier 2
  • Unbreathing/Swimming (maybe too much?)
  • can also give slow wand/misc item usage as a downside if needed (hard to operate magical devices with slime hands)

Some more general thoughts: If the caster form melds all slots (it also prevents ring/weapon swapping, I assume), then it needs to have either good defences, or good resistances, or both, since the main problem for a caster is squishiness/sustain most of the time. If you can’t just walk around in a glass cannon type form without the risk of getting oneshot by an OOD spawn, then it’s probably not worth the investment in the first place.

Dancing weapon form

  • Tier 2
  • melds all but weapon and amulet (draped around weapon?)
  • can’t UC
  • become a dancing weapon (tons of resists, ac and ev that scales with skill, hp penalty)

Ethereal Essence - level 4 Transmutations Spell

Tactical “form”. Links your body with magical essence, increasing power of your destructive spells.

  • Doubles MP cost.
  • Destructive spells deal +50% to +150% damage, scaling with Tmut skill. Could increase power or casting speed instead.
  • Your movement/reflexes become unwieldy - lowers EV by some amount.
  • Short duration, like 9 turns.

Mlioglotl Form - T2? form

A distortion / Lugonu / corruption themed form. No distortion brand, but the Abyss is a fun concept.

  • Melds body armour, weapon, shield.
  • Some sort of spell boost.
  • UC & Spells have a chance to inflict Malmutate on enemies. Scales with skill.

Rhythm Form - T2 form

A Usk / Song of Slaying themed form.

  • Melds body armour.
  • 90% HP, but natural EV bonus.
  • Melee combat & destructive spells (which hit an enemy) give another EV bonus. Like +2 EV per L5 spell, +0.5 per melee hit. Decays quickly over time.
  • For spells, EV bonus scales with spell level. For melee, hitting is all that matters.

This doesn’t really encourage spells / hybridizing by much, but it gives a bonus to them. A dancing-themed form sounds fun overall.

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Crossposting Sentei’s antimagic form, per request:

“mage using their magic to strengthen themselves” form - antimagic effect on their own mp(1/3rd mp), possibly spirit as well, instead of a straight uc damage upgrade a very strong on hit magic brand instead scaled on int/magic skill?, possibly increase uc attack speed to help with brand hits, also maybe strong magic enhancer or mp steal like vs

This might be appealing to:

A mage who is tired of casting spells, maybe nothing good found, or someone who wants the real reaver playstyle of mixing in melee and spell if the mp steal and spell enhancer is made to work. Low melee requirement, higher and scaling more from magic.

I was imagining as a t2 form [ala anaconda/maw/blade], which can be scaled up with more magic

the brand strength could scale from some other non transmut, maybe highest magic skill… or just int

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I like this one a lot, from a gameplay and a thematic perspective. Like a robo-felid…

Something fun but probably unbalanced/coding nightmare would be a skill that allows you to morph into an embodied weapon form that takes its stats and effects from the weapon you are wielding, possibly influenced by weapon skill with that weapon. Further fun and unrealism if you extend it to neat effects from artifact weapons… e.g. embodied gyre & gymbal, frostbite, captain’s cutlass, wyrmbane etc

Demon form sounds fun! Lots of risk-reward, very fiendish.

My idea is pretty similar to your brain-form, but with a bit of a punny twist:

Orb Form:

  • Its a well documented fact that orb-shaped things are better at doing magic; your quest is all about getting such an orb, but Lom Lobon is orb-shaped, because it makes it better at magic; not counting all the other magic orbs you can wield in your off hand.
  • Orb form would grant you an accuracy increasing light aura ;this negates the need for Sinv, as invisible creatures are highlighted by the light, whilst simultaneously keeping the stealth-debuff. Radius of the light could scale with Shifting power.
  • Melds all but your amulet, which acts as the magical ‘core’ of your new orb-self.
  • Archmagi, as another potential source for casters, since it recently got removed from robes.
  • Int scales with skill, again similar to your idea.
  • AC having a fixed value also makes sense, you’re turning into a vaguely hard magical ball, after all. EV would also probably have an upper bound, but it could also not; Most dedicated spell casting species and backgrounds have dex as their second highest stat, and without other defences the form might not be worth using.
  • No UC bonus, but you can ram into enemies still; the damage isn’t great but would use base UC, without any mutations.
  • I agree that +MP would be a good idea, perhaps augmented with spirit to make it less squishy?
  • Flight, that goes without saying; though you could roll around, of course, however rather than having flight.
  • No HP boosts initially, but no penalty at low skill; Maybe very high skill grants a little bit of a boost?

there is of course also design space for (un)randarts here to change the orbs ego from light to something else; Maybe like a big rampaging boulder with mayhem, and rampage instead of flight?

Fearie form

Tier 2 form
Min skill 9?
Max skill 18?
Make the player small (kobold size), gives flight (flavour) and melds boots and gloves.
Gives the player a chance to reduce the cost of any spell they cast by 1 MP. Chance depends on Shapeshifting (50% at min skill, 100% max). Alternatively it could refound the MP instead of reducing the cost.

This might be interesting for chars that haven’t found higher level spells yet in order to improve MP efficiency as well as weapon using melee char that want to start using spells like Manifold Assault!

Edit: if the form seems underwhelming it could get something thematic like blind on dodge (like that unrand cloak) or an offhand aux that blinds or confuses on hit. But I think even without these the form would be interesting for casters. Give up ac and 2 slots for some more MP, my guess is it’s worth on about half of casters, depends on gear and stats too(higher dex would benefit more from it)!

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I love the flavor on Rhythm Form - and it’s inspired me to suggest a form that fits into the (oft-overlooked) pacifist playstyle:

Conductor Form

  • Melds weapon, replacing it with a baton
  • The baton deals 0 damage and does not trigger aux attacks
  • Every turn, any human intelligence enemies in LoS have a small chance to spend a turn singing, and gain the “choir member” effect. An enemy can resist singing (based on HD), but having more/stronger choir members in LoS makes it harder to resist (peer pressure).
  • Melee attacking (even without a target) immediately forces all creatures in LoS to attempt to resist singing along.
  • Creatures with “choir member” effect have reduced will and effective HD (easier to hex/pacify/etc.)
  • If entering Conductor Form causes you to meld the Singing Sword, it should complain about that.

Not quite sure what tier it should be, or how it might scale with TMut skill, though having it more accessible (ie. T1/T2) would probably be better for xp-starved pacifists.

living book form

  • tier 3
  • Melting all parts except accessories
  • 25% reduction in close attack power
  • the same resistance as a statue form
  • Sometime, spell MP consumption costs in all schools are reduced by 1(4 Elemental excluded). The probability of cost reduction being triggered is 25% at skill level 13 and 100% at skill level 27.

phase spirit form

  • tier 2
  • Body Armour Melting(There’s a space crack in the body)
  • Increases damage done over a short period of time in proportion to the amount of MP consumed(This is similar to Harm, but the damage received does not increase). 1MP comsumed = + A% damage(limit 30). The value of A is 1 when the skill level is 9, and 5 when the skill level is 22.

Some defensive form ideas that are interesting for casters, and maybe other characters.

Skill tiers and other details depend on how expensive resists should be.

Abilities could need skill investment beyond the forms min skill to reduce failure rate.

Water form

Replaces your body with animated water.

  • Melds: All armour
  • UC attacks do asphyxiation damage
  • HP: +10% or +20%
  • AC: base 4, scaling with skill
  • rF-, rElec, poison/miasma immune, swims

Will-o-the-wisp form

Become a mystical, insubstantial wisp of green-glowing gas.

  • Melds: Everything except amulets
  • Size: Tiny
  • HP: -10%
  • AC: 4
  • rF+, rC+, rElec, rN+++, poison/miasma immune, flying, sInv, insubstantial
  • Some willpower bonus, maybe scaling with skill
  • Marshlight ability, high MP cost. Or just Foxfire.
  • Blink ability, costs MP.

Crystal skin

Grows a protective layer of magical crystal on your skin.

  • Melds: All armour
  • Some UC bonus
  • AC: Something scaling with skill
  • EV: -5
  • rF+, rC+, rElec, -Stealth
  • Could be extra vulnerable to LRD, or not targetable at all.
  • Crystal bolt ability, high MP cost. Probably shouldn’t bounce like the monster version.

Focus Form (1)
Melds: body
UC: none
AC: +4
EV: +0
Resists: rPois
Other: wiz, int +3-6 (skill)
Concept: at max power, this is basically 4 rings stacked into an body melding form, for aesthetic, there’s an eye in the torso

Angel Form (2-3)
Melds: all but rings and amulet (amulet is center, rings are biblically accurate style, show all 8 on octopodes (:< and 0-2 on normal)
UC: none
AC: int/3 + rings/amulet
EV: +int%
Resists: rF+, rN+, Will+
Other: halo, slay-enough to cancel out halo and then -6, wiz, archmagi, int +6-12 (skill)
Concept: Basically, this’ll provide high defenses, potentially even scaling into the late game, to statue/storm forms but also decent damage with +int and spellpower

These are just my ideas, and the prolly need tweaking!

I’m thinking about what a mage wants and working backward, so something like

  • melds body armor so no spellcasting penalty from encumbrance
  • adds some defense (nothing crazy, it’s not for melee)
  • some sort of spell enhancer
  • some sort of disengagement tool, like barachi hop
  • mp regen
  • something fun

Obviously it’d be OP to get all of these, so maybe something like

Arcane Golem
Transmute your flesh into a construct of mystical energy.

  • Melds body armor, maybe headgear too
  • AC bonus that scales with int (should cap around plate armor at high int)
  • Archmage
  • Mass blink - release a wave of translocational energy ability that blinks everything in view three times, goes on cooldown for a number of turns and slows you
  • Empower spell - casts your next spell at max spellpower but silences you for 2-4 turns, goes on cooldown for a bunch of turns
  • rpois inf, weakness to antimagic (extra damage like holy on demonspawn)

Two activated abilities is probably too much

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